Catholics believe that the strict morality of the church helps followers live in compliance with God's will and attain salvation in heaven. From the laity to the clergy, every member of the Catholic Church tries to follow a prescribed moral standard and seeks to avoid living a life of sin. This morality comes partly from the Bible, but also from theologians, philosophers and the papacy.
The Old Testament provides an ethical guideline that many Catholics try to follow. Catholics believe that God handed down the Ten Commandments to Moses, who shared it with the Jewish people. These commandments prohibit acts such as murder, theft, bearing false witness and adultery, as well as mental acts, such as coveting another person's possessions or wife and failing to honor one's parents. Furthermore, the Ten Commandments advocate the moral responsibility of respecting God by not taking his name in vain, not worshiping other gods, and keeping the Sabbath a holy day of rest.
The Catholic Church preaches several moral tenets related to sexual intercourse and reproduction. The Catholic Church believes that sex outside of marriage is immoral, and advocates that all couples wait until after they are married to have sex. The church also prohibits the use of birth control, arguing that it encourages promiscuity and contradicts God's will that humanity reproduce. Catholics also strongly discourage abortion according to the belief that life begins at conception, and that abortion destroys this life.
In the Catholic faith, living a moral life means accepting the will of God in one's daily life. Catholics pray to God for moral guidance and to show appreciation for the gifts they receive in daily life. Moral Catholics also strive to act charitably toward others and help those in needs. Some Catholics also follow the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays as an act of penance for past sins.
One of the most important moral laws in the Catholic Church is the principle of acting with love and kindness, following the example of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that Christ told Christians to love not only one another, but all of humanity. Catholics believe that individuals should even love their enemies and "turn the other cheek" when attacked by an enemy. A moral Catholic doesn't seek revenge or act wrathfully; instead, he treats others with mercy and compassion.
- Vatican: Catechism of the Catholic Church
- BBC: Catholics Asked to Abstain from Meat for Friday Penance
- Eternal Word Television Network: What does the Catholic Church Teach about Birth Control
- CatholicCulture.org: Catechism of the Catholic Church
- BBC Religions: The Church of England and Roman Catholic Church views on abortion.
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